previous next

Doc. 156.-fight at the North Anna, Va.

General Pope's despatch.

headquarters army of Virginia, July 24.
Hon. E. M. Stanton, Secretary of War:
A cavalry expedition, sent out by Gen. King on the twenty-second, from Fredericksburgh, returned last evening.

Early yesterday morning they met and defeated a body of confederate cavalry about one hundred strong, stationed near Carmel Church, on the “telegraph line” from Fredericksburgh to Richmond, burnt their camp and six cars loaded with corn, and broke up the telegraph from Gordonsville. An hour later, a large body of Stuart's cavalry came up to attack them. These too were defeated, driven across the North Anna River, and pursued till within sight of Hanover Junction. Several prisoners, a large number of horses, and many arms were brought in.

A march of seventy miles, and the encounter and defeat of two bodies of confederate cavalry were accomplished in twenty-nine hours, and without the loss of a man.

I have not received as yet the names of the commanding officers and troops who have thus distinguished themselves, but will transmit them to you as soon as particulars are received. The damage done to the Virginia Central Railroad by the expedition of the nineteenth is not yet repaired.

John Pope, Major-General Commanding.

Lieutenant-Colonel Kilpatrick's report.

General: I have the honor to report that in obedience to your orders, I left Fredericksburgh at four o'clock P. M., the twenty-second instant, with detachments of the Harris Light cavalry, (one hundred and sixty,) Third Indiana cavalry, (one hundred and thirty,) and Fourteenth Brooklyn New-York State militia, (one hundred,) in all three hundred and ninety men — crossed the Mattapony River at eight P. M., and bivouacked four miles the other side, leaving the Brooklyn Fourteenth to guard the ford and roads leading from Bowling Green and New-Market.

At two o'clock A. M. of the twenty-third I commenced a rapid march for the rebel camp, supposed to be at Carmel Church. At daybreak I saw the church but no camp, the rebels having crossed the North Anna River a few days before. [560] A woman having informed me that a scouting party came along at seven A. M. daily to the church, I placed in ambush Capt. Allan M. Seymour with his company. He had just placed his men in position, when his alluring detail was suddenly attacked by nine or ten men, supported by some fifty others. Capt. Seymour immediately charged, forcing the advance back upon their supports. I went to his assistance with a small force, leaving Major Chapman and Davies to guard the cross-roads at the church. The enemy was whipped and driven into the river. Lieutenant Kimball crossed and soon returned, reporting that the camp was in sight and the enemy in column of platoons in the road, with skirmishers covering several hundred yards in front.

I ordered up the reserve, and with Major Davies and Captain Walters reconnoitred the enemy. He occupied a good position on the brow of a hill sloping gently toward the river — level in rear and a fine position for a cavalry fight. I determined at once to attack him, leaving Captains Seymour, McIrvin and Grinton to guard the ford. I directed Major Davies to deploy the carbineers of the Harris Light cavalry as skirmishers on the right and left of the road in columns of platoons to charge. Major Davies advanced rapidly with his skirmishers, gaining ground to the right for the purpose of flanking the enemy and forcing his skirmishers back and beyond his column in the road. Major Chapman seeing that this column was about to retire, charged most gallantly, routing and pursuing him to within sight of Hanover Junction, nearly five miles.

His camp was destroyed, tents and stores burned, also seven car loads of grain. Suddenly and almost unexpectedly a large force of cavalry (afterwards found to be Stuart's) came down on the right. I ordered up the reserve, and the enemy, though greatly outnumbering our tired and worn-out soldiers, was promptly met by Majors Davies and Chapman, and forced back in great confusion far beyond the range of Capt. Walters's carbineers. Having accomplished all that could be done with safety, I at once recrossed the river and took up a strong position near the church. The enemy did not have the boldness to follow. At twelve M. we started for Fredericksburgh, and reached camp at eleven P. M. of the same day.

During the long march, and the two skirmishes in the morning, the whole command, officers and men, conducted themselves most nobly. I would particularly mention Major Davies, who deserves great credit for the gallant and able manner in which he handled his skirmishers. He and his officers, Capt. Walters and Lieut. Plum, of company L, and Lieut. Kimball, of company F, were constantly in the advance, and exposed to the sharpest fire of the enemy. Major Chapman and his whole command, who promptly obeyed each order and charged most gallantly — braver and more eager men never met an enemy; Adjutant Benjamin Gregory, who fearlessly and correctly carried orders on the field, and his untiring exertions during the entire expeditions; Sergeants McCutchen, company F, Gribben and Harris, company L, and Regimental Color-Sergeant Alfred Randolph, won praise from all by deeds of daring done by each.

I have the honor to be your obed't servant,

Judson Kilpatrick, Lieutenant-Colonel Commanding

A National account.

Fredericksburgh, July 24, 1869.
Immediately upon the heels of the brilliant dash upon Beaver Dam, and before the exuberance and congratulations have ceased, another affair, equally daring in its conception and surpassingly successful, has instilled enthusiasm into the ranks and opened the eyes of rebeldom to the new order of things. As our cavalry returned from Beaver Dam on Sunday evening, it will be remembered that the rebels followed them up to within a short distance of Fredericksburgh. Finding that they could not overtake us, they proceeded down towards the Bowling Green road, where they surprised a party of the Third Indiana cavalry, capturing a lieutenant and seven men. On Tuesday evening, at four o'clock, Lieut.-Col. Kilpatrick started out in pursuit of the enemy, believed to be lurking in our vicinity, with one hundred and eighty men of the Harris light cavalry, under Major Davies; one hundred and twenty of the Third Indiana, under Major Chapman; and companies B and E of the Brooklyn Fourteenth, under Capt. Mallory. Sixteen miles from Fredericksburgh, at the junction of the Bowling Green and Newmarket roads, the command bivouacked for the night, and at two o'clock next morning Col. Kilpatrick pushed on with the cavalry, leaving the infantry to guard the ford of the Mattapony, and to act as a reserve in an emergency. Mount Carmel was reached at daylight. Here it was expected the rebels were encamped, and preparations were made for surprising them, but no enemy could be found. Hearing that the rebels passed along there every morning, Colonel Kilpatrick sent Capt. Seymour, with fifty men, to ambush them; but the party had proceeded but a short distance before they suddenly came upon the enemy. The command immediately charged upon the rebels, who broke like sheep, and rushing down to the North Anna River, abandoned horses, arms, clothing, and every thing, and plunged pell mell into the stream. Following them across, the pursuit was continued until Kilpatrick came upon them, drawn up in the road in columns of platoons, with dismounted men, armed with rifles, deployed as skirmishers in the fields to the right and left. Although having an inferior force, Col. Kilpatrick determined to attack them. A number of men were deployed as skirmishers, and the column drawn up preparatory to a charge. In the mean time Col. Kilpatrick, Major Davies, and Capt. Walters rode up towards the enemy, only three hundred yards distant, and opened conversation, the rebels inquiring what he wanted, to which the Colonel replied: “What does it look like?” Returning to the column, the skirmishers, under Major Davies and Capt. Walters, commenced to advance. As yet not a shot [561] had been fired. Presently the rifles and carbines opened along the line, the enemy's balls whistling over our skirmishers' heads, while now and then a rebel reeled and fell before our deadly carbines. This continued several minutes, the cavalry maintaining their position in the road. One shot intended for Colonel Kilpatrick passed through a horse's head, killing him instantly, and striking the Colonel's left side, fell to the ground. On the skirmishers slowly but surely pressed, both sides jeering each other, each confident of victory. Soon it became evident that the enemy must retire, and in a moment the rebel commander was heard to order: “By platoons, left about, wheel.” Hardly had the rebels turned their horses' heads when Major Chapman and the Indiana boys were upon them, dismounting men, capsizing horses, and driving the enemy helter skelter towards their camp. In after them went our cavalry, hurrying them down towards Hanover Junction, where they retired behind reinforcements, when our men fell back to the abandoned camp. Here a portion of the cavalry fired a railroad train loaded with grain, a number of wagons, tents, baggage, commissary and medical stores, and other valuable property. While the handful of men were hastening the work of destruction, a large body of Stuart's cavalry appeared at a short distance. Had they charged they would have utterly annihilated our troops, as they outnumbered us three to one; but, halting a moment to reconnoitre, Col. Kilpatrick determined on a bold strike. Sounding the rally, his scattered men closed up behind the platoon which the Colonel had suddenly thrown across the road, while Major Davies was sent with skirmishers to flank the enemy. Stealing off to the right, Major Davies had succeeded in getting on their flank and almost on their rear before being discovered. Opening a brisk fire upon their flank, the whole command wheeled and fled, followed by our cavalry, who, after chasing them down the railroad as far as was deemed prudent, returned, first, however, building a number of fires along upon the track. The party then returned to camp, reaching Fredericksburgh last night at twelve o'clock, having marched seventy-four miles in twenty-four hours, routed a vastly superior rebel force, composed principally of Stuart's famous cavalry, destroyed several thousand dollars' worth of property, cut down the telegraph line, and captured a large number of horses, together with several prisoners. Majors Davies and Chapman and Capt. Walters did remarkably good service, and were highly complimented by Col. Kilpatrick. The cars have not yet commenced running on the Central Railroad, and this affair will be likely to hinder the repair of the road to a great extent. A Richmond paper, found in the rebel camp, stated that Gen. Stuart was building a bridge across the North Anna River, over which he intended, with two thousand men, to commit depredations in this direction. Col. Kilpatrick left word for Stuart that he need take no more trouble about the bridge, as we should give them all they could attend to on their own side.

This dash cannot fail to impress the rebels with the fact that the department of the Rappahannock is about to prove rather a troublesome neighbor, and unless Stuart's men exercise more courage their laurels will very soon have faded. A portion of Ashby's old command was also in the fight, as we are informed by prisoners, and when the rebel authorities learn the inferiority of our force, they may possibly reflect upon the probability of a Yankee being equal to at least one rebel.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
22nd (2)
July 24th, 1869 AD (1)
July 24th (1)
23rd (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: